Coping strategies through lockdown
Understandably lockdown is taking its toll on many of us, our mental and physical health. The stress associated with distancing from our loved ones, our friends, family and school is testing our emotional resilience like nothing else. Some might be benefiting from a simpler life. Less rushing round, spending more time with the family, and discovering nature. Others might be struggling with the changes, the lack of freedom, feelings of overload, loneliness, missing education and friends etc. The added pressure of home schooling and trying to continue with full employment might be testing our patience and emotional resilience considerably causing feelings of frustration.
During these particularly challenging times I have found having some daily coping strategies really useful! They have helped lift my mood and maintain positivity. I thought I would share some, hopefully they will help you too:
“Being kind to yourself is one of the greatest kindnesses” by Charlie Mackesy,
Self-compassion is one such teaching that’s particularly emphasized in the Kripalu Yoga tradition (Kripalu means “compassionate” or “merciful” in Sanskrit). Self-compassion is the act of expressing understanding, acceptance, tenderness, kindness, and love towards yourself as a response to feelings of suffering or inadequacy. We are all suffering in various ways during the current lockdown. Perhaps you are being overly critical of your ability as a teacher and parent, feeling that you are not good enough. Self-compassion enables us to accept our imperfections and to be able to see opportunities for growth, learning, and wisdom in our mistakes and misfortunes. While suffering is part of our human experience, we can consciously and mindfully choose to be compassionate when it arises in our lives.
How to cultivate more self compassion during these challenging times…treat yourself like a beloved friend, and give yourself a break, it’s OK to have an off day!
Try not to beat yourself up over mistakes made, To succeed we have to make mistakes, maybe think of them as opportunities to learn. Keeping on top of daily struggles at the moment is tough. Realise that you are doing a great job! Avoid comparing yourself or your child to others, it’s the biggest waste of time since we all are unique and are gifted in many different ways. Focus more on providing opportunities for love and happiness, seeking inspiration and positive experiences. Maybe you can give yourself permission to self care for yourself as a loved one or beloved friend might. Can you finish a little earlier from work, take a lunch break and find some time to relax and unwind? Get some fresh air to take your mind off your worries and concerns etc. Ask yourself how you can be kinder to yourself?
Finding pleasure: ten mins of mindfulness daily to focus on what looks beautiful e.g.a sunset, a view of the countryside, fresh fallen snow, watching birds at the bird table, a squirrel running across the top of the fence etc. Start a hobby or interest that inspires you e.g. SING, have a music playlist ready when you feel any sadness or frustration creeping in. Listen to your favourite upbeat tracks that bring feelings of positivity, read a book, paint, plant, watch your favourite movie etc. It can be the simplest thing!
Be grateful, Rick Hanson, author of the Buddha Pill recommends noting down five things at the end of your day that you are grateful for. This helps move us towards a sense of abundance in which you feel fed beyond measure and in turn give with all your heart unconditionally.
Have faith... the antidote to doubt and fear and strengthens you during hard times. Faith fuels hope and optimism and lifts your eyes to the far horizons, towards what’s sacred, even Divine. HOW…make a list of what you have faith in, both in the world and in yourself. Maybe pick one of your own strengths or virtues. Remember the good reasons for relying upon it and imagine how trusting more in it will help you. Also you could try considering some of the good qualities and aspirations in your innermost heart. Give yourself over to them. Try and have faith in the best parts of yourself, they’ve always been faithful to you.
Relax and calm by watching your breath: sitting or lying comfortably, find your breath in your body and just watch it. Notice the two parts, the inhale and exhale. Fully experience your breath, welcome and honour the life force, Prana, bringing vitality and life. Perhaps notice where you feel it most, shoulders, chest, abdomen, elsewhere? No judgement just observing with detachment.
Imagery relaxation, a favourite place, or scene: lying down or sitting comfortably. Begin by taking a deep breath, then letting it out gently. Close your eyes. Inhale another slow, deep breath. As you slowly exhale, you may feel yourself beginning to relax. Maybe you can bring to mind the most relaxing place you know. Perhaps it’s a favourite place, somewhere you have visited, or a peaceful scene of your imagination, like a meadow, beach, forest, or island if you prefer, somewhere that you feel at peace. Take a few moments to get that peaceful image in mind. You might like to imagine yourself in that special place, using all of your senses, smell, colour vision, hearing, touch, to feel all the good feelings you have there. Just enjoy being in this favourite place. Enjoy the feelings you have while you are there. When you are ready, take one last moment in your peaceful place. Take your time coming back, and bring those calm, peaceful feelings with you. As you return, take a slow, cleansing breath, wiggle your fingers and toes, and open your eyes.